Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and the Toronto Raptors made the path to the play-in more difficult with a 1-3 record on the road. However, the record doesn’t reflect their performances, as the losses came by an average margin of a little more than six points. After a tough game against the Los Angeles Clippers, former Raptor Kawhi Leonard praised his old teammates.
With Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, and Chris Boucher being out, the Raptors entered the game versus the Clippers with the 32nd different starting lineup in 66 games.
Luckily, Toronto got VanVleet back in the lineup, and with Siakam having a huge night against the Lakers a few nights ago, the Raptors had something to work with. Unfortunately, the Raptors lost by five, with 3-pointers from Reggie Jackson and Paul George to put the game away.
Kawhi, who played with both VanVleet and Siakam in the Championship run in 2019 had some nice words to say about his former teammates. He mentioned how their development is a testament to how hard they have worked to improve their skill set. About VanVleet, Kawhi talked about his “aggressive” play on the floor and how he has always “had game.”
In regards to Siakam, Kawhi noted that “he was doing it when I was there, in that second half of the season. Being aggressive for us, attacking the rim, making shots” and that he is a “two-way player.”
Kawhi Leonard knows the Toronto Raptors are in good hands.
VanVleet and Siakam did all they could, as they combined for 51 of the 100 points the Raptors scored in the game. So, to receive some praise from a superstar player and former teammate was well warranted. On defense, the Raptors were able to hold Kawhi to only 13 points, which was impressive and what kept the game close.
VanVleet and Siakam have had some rough stretches this season but their play has stood out as two of the biggest positives from this season.
In the post-game interview, VanVleet was asked about how difficult the road trip was for the team. He commented on the fact that they have to “take the good with the bad” in terms of the big performances they’ve had against tougher opponents. In regards to the numbers, Van Vleet jokingly said “we’re the best worst team of all-time.”
At least Kawhi knows that this season is not representative of Toronto’s quality.
Throughout the season, the Raptors have continuously displayed their potential as many have suggested that their record does not reflect their performances.
Nonetheless, with six games left to go, the Toronto Raptors are 3.5 games back from the 10th seed and potential play-in spot. A win on Thursday night against the Washington Wizards would be huge, as it might be the last chance and a possible tie-breaker. VanVleet and Siakam will need to be as good as Kawhi thinks if they want to pull out the victory.